Ravens report card: Defense/special teams

Ravens report card: Defense/special teams
September 30, 2013, 10:45 am
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Harbaugh: 'We didn't play well at all' against Bills

The 23-20 loss Sunday in Buffalo may stand out as one of the worst performances of the John Harbaugh era. There's just no denying that. The defense and special teams, unfortunately, didn't help matters much in this one.

DEFENSIVE LINE - F This group, so dominant against Houston just one week before got pushed all over the place by a young and hungry Buffalo front line. Many people looked at linebackers like Terrell Suggs and Daryl Smith and the fact that they made 17 and 12 tackles, respectively, but a chunk of that was because the line couldn't stop the run, especially between the tackles, something coach John Harbaugh mentioned after the game. The Ravens gave up 203 yards on the ground, thanks mainly to the way the Bills opened holes time and time again, especially in the first two quarters. It was very surprising. 

LINEBACKERS - D  They didn't do much better, also having trouble in several ways. They didn't get much of a pass rush, had problems with tackling and couldn't get it going. Suggs was all over the place with 17 tackles -- that's a number you don't see every day in the NFL and it's impressive -- but like the D-line, they got shoved all over the place as the Bills controlled things. 

SECONDARY - C- The Bills found a lot of open space to catch passes -- or to try and catch passes. There were times when they had receivers wide, wide open, and the Ravens were fortunate things weren't worse with the passing game. The loss of Lardarius Webb early really hurt, and Corey Graham got beat badly on a first-half touchdown but came back to make a nice interception late as the Ravens tried to rally. This group still is looking to find their way. 

SPECIAL TEAMS - C The punting and kicking were good once again, but the loss of Jacoby Jones hurts more every game when it comes to returns. He's just so hard to replace. Tandon Doss returned a punt for a touchdown last week but gambled catching the ball in traffic on punts this time and could have gotten in trouble. Still, it's easy to see he's gaining confidence back there and could make some more big plays. The tackling on return teams just wasn't there and penalties always seem to show up.  

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